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This morning a San Bernardino jury awarded 3 million dollars to a couple following a protracted legal battle. On July 16, 2010, Sabrina Buelna was struck by a rotten falling tree branch right outside the Crestline home she shared with her husband and three small children. She sustained severe injuries to both her legs and feet. Bergener & Associates was able to prove to jurors that Sabrina’s life altering injuries were caused by grave negligence – not by a freak accident as the defense would have them believe.

We submitted multiple settlement demands for the $1 million policy limits to Farmers’ Insurance, the homeowner’s insurance in the case. They refused time after time, countering with negligible offers that would not begin to cover Sabrina’s medical expenses exceeding $600,000.

After persistent efforts to settle the case quickly out of court, attorney James Bergener filed a complaint with the Superior Court of the State of California in the County of San Bernardino.

Whenever necessary, Bergener & Associates is prepared to litigate on behalf of our clients in order to protect their interests and obtain the best possible settlement. In this case, Farmers’ obstinate unwillingness to pay out the $1 million policy limits instead has led to a jury verdict of $3 million in favor of the Buelna family.

Sabrina’s husband Charles consulted with our personal injury attorneys at Bergener & Associates just days after the accident. It was immediately clear that the owner and landlord of the property, Michael Hill, demonstrated extreme negligence by not removing the tree prior to this accident. There had been past incidents of fallen branches resulting in damages as well as previous branches removed due to tree rot.

Moreover Hill, the defendant in the suit, was a professional landlord at the time the Sabrina was injured. He and members of his family were in the business of residential construction and home improvements including landscaping and tree maintenance. It was therefore likely that Hill was aware that the tree posed extreme danger of death and or serious injury to those in its vicinity. Nevertheless, Hill did not warn his tenants, our clients, about the dangerous tree or inspect it to discover the extensive rot inside.

When the heavy branch broke off, it landed directly on Sabrina’s legs and feet, causing crush injuries requiring multiple invasive surgeries. She was airlifted from the scene to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, and was later transferred to the UCI Medical Center in order to receive proper expert care. She remained hospitalized for several months. As a result of the incident Sabrina was separated from her young children for an extended period of time, and her limited mobility has made caring for them more difficult.

Today’s verdict will cover Sabrina’s past medical expenses, as well as pay for any future treatment. We wish to thank the men and women of the jury for taking the time to thoughtfully review the evidence. We know how difficult it is to be away from work and home to serve on jury duty and we appreciate their sacrifice. The Buelnas are especially grateful to move forward. The pain and suffering – non-monetary damages – endured by Sabrina, Charles, and their children has been substantial. We are pleased that this 3 million dollar verdict can help the Buelna family start putting their lives back together.